Legislature Undermines Critical DWI Reform

Just six months ago, the legislature made effective a critical new law that allows first-time DWI offenders to obtain a limited license for part of their minimum period of license suspension. We put up a whole page on our website to educate people about that law. But thanks to aggressive lobbying by the ignition interlock companies, the legislature hastily passed a new amendment that destroys the utility of that law for most working people.

The Limited License Law as Originally Written

Originally, and effective January 1, 2016, the Limited License Law allowed first-time DWI offenders to apply for a limited license, enabling them to drive to work (or for work), to school, to doctors appointments, and for other very limited purposes, The law required the applicant to pay a few hundred dollars to have an ignition interlock installed on her vehicle for the period of the limited license (45 days for most people).

The June 6, 2016 Amendment to the Limited License Law

Effective June 6, 2016, the legislature amended this new law to require that the applicant maintain the ignition interlock, not just for the period of the limited license, but for an entire additional year above and beyond that period - so 390 days for most people (1 year plus 45 days). This would be expected to add at least a thousand dollars to the cost of the program for each driver, and add additional undeserved stigma for those individuals.

Surprise! - Legislators Pursue a Foolhardy Policy

The vast majority of people convicted of DWI-1st offense in NH are not required to have an ignition interlock for any period of time (you can read more about this on the DWI Penalties page of our website).

Now, the legislature has singled out some of the most responsible of those people - those who have jobs that require a vehicle, or those who commute to school to further their education - along with some of the most vulnerable of those people (the ones that need a limited license to attend frequent medical appointments) - and the legislature is telling them that they must bear the financial burden and stigma of having an interlock for 390 days. Meanwhile, a first-time offender that is unemployed, or that telecommutes, or that lives close to work, need not have an ignition interlock at all.

This policy is foolhardy and can only be explained as motivated by the greed and avarice of the ignition interlock companies.

Categories: DWI/DUI Defense